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SSP22 International Space University guest lecture

Vanda Brotas presenting at the Blue Agenda conferenceThe SSP22 is a high level international School on Space Research. Vanda Brotas and Steve Groom participated in this SSP22, lecturing to around 22 students about in situ radiometric measurements and relevant research projects.

The session took place onboard the Lisboat vessel that carries a PML hyperspectral radiometer. The instrument is used to obtain ground measurements to compare with Sentinel satellite data as part of the CERTO project, which was developed as part of PORTWIMS.




The importance of space

Vanda Brotas presenting at the Blue Agenda conferenceIn June 22 Vanda participated in "Espaço à Quarta”, a weekly outreach activity organized by Ciência Viva, in collaboration with Portugal Space Agency.

Vanda participated in a round table on the importance of Space in a range of applications where she explained the relevance of Earth Observation on coastal and marine sciences, giving the example of Harmful Algae Blooms detection. The event was broadcasted in the national radio and can be seen on YouTube.  



British Embassy side event

Vanda Brotas presenting at the Blue Agenda conferenceVanda Brotas and Steve Groom presented at a roundtable discussion on “Ocean Research: the future for science collaboration” in June at an event co-organized by the British Embassy in Lisbon and the UK Science and Innovation Network. The event was linked to the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon at the same time.

The debate included a panel of experts in marine research and stakeholders from defence, diplomacy and higher education. They discussed key topics to foster scientific collaboration between Portugal and the UK, including the transfer of data, joint use of scientific platforms, researchers’ mobility and capacity building and advance training.  



A Revolta da Natureza em Brimsa book launch event

22nd April 2022 - Earth Day, Pavillion of Knowledge, Lisbon, Portugal

Ibook_launch.jpgn commemoration of Earth Day, Lisbon’s renowned Pavilion of Knowledge organized a book launch for Professor Vanda Brotas’ recently published book A Revolta da Natureza em Brimsa (Nature’s Revolt in Brimsa), an illustrated children’s book telling the story of a hypothetical (yet, all too familiar) catastrophic event involving the sudden release of toxic material into a natural habitat. The story revolves around a group that discovers the disaster event in the their home city of Brimsa, and the immediate and long term consequences involved, such as the sudden loss of bee apicultures. The group works to resolve the situation, as they are taken through the city’s fantastic natural locations and explore how everything is connected, discover how things work together in nature, and how a small miscalculation by a few persons can lead to a catastrophe for everyone.

In collaboration with PORTWIMS and the University of Lisbon, the Pavilion of Knowledge hosted 85 middle and high school students on Earth Day, from two Lisbon schools (Colégio Atlântico, and Escola Básica e Secundária Mestre Domingos Saraiva) as they participated in a game where they worked in small groups to resolve the hypothetical disaster scenario. Each group was designated to represent a specific entity of the City of Brimsa, such as the “Brimsa School District”, the “ONG for Bee Conservation”, the “Brisma Tourism Industry”, the “Brisma Pharmaceutical Industry”, and so on. Each group was also lead by the presence of an actual expert from a similar industry in the real world, as the students negotiated with each other to solve the disaster problem. In the end, each entity presented their best proposal as to how they would resolve the situation and through which measures, effectively reproducing the challenges involved in an interconnected society trying to find harmony with the environment all the while functioning and adjusting within it.

The game’s fantastic elaboration was supervised by the likes of Pedro Nunes (Event Manager at the Pavilion of Knowledge), Rute Paiva (responsible for the David Murrão Ferreira Library, in Lisbon), João Marques (Event Organizer at the Pavilion of Knowledge), and by Professor Vanda Brotas herself, author of the book (incidentally, Professor Brotas was substituted by Dr. Federico Ienna due to Covid).

Throughout this very intense game, involving several unexpected turns of events, the hypothetical scenario almost seemed to take a real life of its own, as all participants worked to solve the problem, negotiated solutions, considered consequences, debated on its implications, and came to a final proposal for its resolution.

Each participant of the event received a free copy of Vanda Brotas’ book A Revolta da Natureza em Brimsa, illustrated by Rui Sousa, and dedicated to the University of Lisbon’s own Professor Fernando Catarino.

Photo credits: Francisco Lima/Pavilião do Conhecimento (Instagram @pavilhaodoconhecimento)


Collaborative field work in the Tagus

An extensive field work campaign in the Tagus estuary, Portugal took place in October 2021.

Field work in the Tagus. Photos by Federico Ienna, Ana Brito and Steve.Two sets of radiometers, one from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the other from the Alfred Wegener Institut (AWI) were mounted on the Fisália research ship to obtain measurements of water quality that will be used to validate satellite observations.

This was facilitated by WP3 of PORTWIMS by an expert visit from Astrid Bracher to help intercalibrate the radiometers and a staff exchange that enabled Mariana Soppa from AWI to participate in the field campaign. PhD student Luciane Favareto from MARE also participated in the field work and benefited from the training, guidance and expertise from the AWI staff.

An additional intercomparison transect was performed with the radiometers from FC.ID that are already installed on the Lisboat ferry, where the Fisália took measurements alongside the ferry in order to calibrate the instruments.

This was a great opportunity for collaborative field work between PML, FC.ID, MARE and AWI where by pooling resources and expertise meant that we were able to obtain accurate and calibrated measurements and help train the next generation of ocean scientists.




PORTWIMS at the Blue Agenda for the Green Deal conference

Vanda Brotas presenting at the Blue Agenda conferenceOn the 8th June 2021, Vanda Brotas was invited by the Portuguese Minister of the Sea, to give a talk titled: "Portugal Twinning for Excellence and innovation in marine science and Earth observation PORTWIMS” at The Blue Agenda for the Green Deal conference, within the Portuguese EU Presidency.  

Vanda presented the PORTWIMS project, and explained the relevance of the project to promote marine sciences in Portugal. This event constitutes a major achievement for PORTWIMS project.



Observing water colour in the Tagus

Installing the So-Rad radiometers on the Lisboat ferryThe So-Rad system has been installed on the Lisboat ferry in Lisbon. This "Solar tracking radiometry platform" was developed in Plymouth as part of the MONOCLE project.

The system is already observing water colour in the Tagus estuary and the data from it will be used to validate satellite observations. See Guilia Sent and the Lisboat team at work!


Children's book fair

Vanda at a book fair in LeiriaOn the 23rd June, Vanda talked about her book The Girl who could see different colours in the sea, to around 150 school children at a book fair in Leiria.

She explained what is ocean colour and how it is measured to an enthralled audience. Download the book in Portuguese and English for our resources page.



New training manual for marine biodiversity and ecology

A training manual authored by PORTWIMS scientist José Paula was launched on 5th March 2021. The manual derives from several regional Marine Science for Management (MASMA) courses on scientific methodologies in marine ecology in Mozambique and is sponsored by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA). 

Screenshot of training manual launch
The manual is aimed at young researchers and lectures in marine science from undergraduate to postgraduate levels. It provides a comprehensive and integrated training resource to address the current gaps in resources for training in marine biodiversity and ecology in the Western Indian Ocean regioin.

The manual is available to purchase from


Chasing the effects of dust deposition on coccolithophores living across the Atlantic Ocean

Over the past two years, a team of young researchers from MARE-UL embarked on two AMT expeditions, as part of a PORTWIMS training programme. Amongst other assignments, Andreia Tracana, Afonso Ferreira, Giulia Sent and Carolina Sá oversaw daily sampling of atmospheric dust and plankton for the study of coccolithophores thriving along the entire photic zone. The goal was to further explore the link between dust-born nutrient deposition in the Atlantic Ocean and the productivity, composition and distribution of this biogeochemically important group.

Pictures of fieldworkTop left: Andreia filtering seawater for the the study of coccolithophore communities; bottom left: Catarina using a polarizing light microscope for coccolithophore taxonomy; right: Guila and Andreia preparing the atmospheric dust collector.

These samples are now being analysed as part of a new project - CHASE (CHASing the environmental Effects of dust deposition across the Atlantic and Southern Ocean: a coccolithophore perspective), which is led by MARE-ULisbon in close collaboration with Instituto Dom Luiz (IDL), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) and East Anglia University (EAU).

The microscopic analysis for the taxonomic identification of coccolithophores is well underway, thanks to Catarina Pinto, an MSc student from the University of Aveiro (Portugal). Catarina is doing her MSc research on “Coccolithophores (Haptophyte) living in the North Atlantic (50° – 30°N): results from AMT28”. So far, she has done a terrific job at learning the taxonomy of the group during such strange pandemic times, providing the first pictures of some of the beautiful coccospheres that we found on the plankton samples. Her next step will be undertaking a detailed multi-proxy exploration of all the gathered ecological data in synergy with a wide range of remote-sensing time-series observations.

Project CHASE, funded by the Portuguese Science Foundation, is closely intertwined with PORTWIMS and a follow-up study from the recently completed EU-H2020 project DUSTCO ( Both DUSTCO and CHASE are projects based on the premise that atmospheric dust deposition is likely to change the Earth’s climate and atmospheric CO2 through fertilizing the ocean (nutrient source) and by accelerating the biological carbon pump (ballasting effect).

CoccolithophoresSome images illustrating the beautiful coccolithophore species diversity found in the North Atlantic.

DUSTCO already provided relevant evidence on the increasing importance of deep-dwelling coccolithophores Florisphaera profunda and Gladiolithus flabellatus in response to ongoing climate driven ocean warming. As these species are typically more abundant in highly stratified and oligotrophic tropical conditions, recent observations suggest that they might have a competitive ecological advantage in a future warmer ocean. Data further indicate that this ecological change is likely to contribute to weaken the biological carbon pump thorough increasing the “rain ratio” and reducing the efficiency of coccolith-ballasting. Such tendency may, however, be at least partially counterbalanced by increasing Saharan dust outbreaks across the Atlantic acting as a fertilizer to fuel fast blooming coccolithophore productivity as well as increasing their efficiency as ballasts. In addition to dust, discharge and dispersal of Amazon water, as well as seasonal deepening of the mixed layer revealed to also significantly promote primary production and subsequent export and sequestration of organic carbon in the tropical North Atlantic.

CHASE will expand existing knowledge on the transatlantic export productivity of coccolithophores gained from DUSTCO towards an environmentally broader perspective, spanning tropical, subtropical, temperate, subpolar and polar waters across the entire Atlantic Ocean and Southern Ocean. The project will also explore the potential effects from other sources of dust besides the Saharan desert and the Sahel region. The overall goal is to use a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to advance existing knowledge on the link between atmospheric, oceanographic, ecological and biogeochemical processes involved during the outburst of dust storms over and into the Atlantic, and its effects on the biogeochemically important coccolithophores.


90 seconds of PORTWIMS science

90 seconds of science

PORTWIMS Coordinator, Vanda Brotas, is featured on a radio programme which aims to make the science of Portugal better known and understood in just 90 seconds.

In her broadcast Vanda talks about how her group of researchers at the University of Lisbon are using satellites to study phytoplankton, the microscopic plants which are responsible for producing half of all the global oxygen.


New project success - CERTO

The Copernicus Marine, Climate Change & Land services all produce EO-based water quality data using different methods for ocean, shelf waters and lakes, while none cover transitional waters. A new EC H2020 project, CERTO, aims to harmonize methods across the services, develop specific methods for transitional waters and develop indicators relevant to stakeholders. CERTO brings further collaboration between PML & the University of Lisbon, as well as 8 other partners, & demonstrates the value of PORTWIMS for promoting the university's involvement in more projects.

For further information please see

Lisbon scientists sail the Atlantic

disco.jpgThree early-career researchers, Andreia Tracana (left), Guilia Sent (centre) and Carolina Sa' (right), from the University of Lisbon are participating in the 29th Atlantic Meridional Transect cruise. Here they can be seen alongside RRS Discovery in the Azores.

Carolina has spent time training at PML and preparing for the cruise and is now on board the ship operating a hand-held sun photometer to obtain measurements of atmospheric aerosols. She is working in collaboration with NASA and the information will be crucial to validate satellite measurments of aerosol properties as these measurements are scarce in the open ocean.

Guilia, an MSc student, is using microscopy and high-performance liquid chromatography to characterize phytoplankton communities in the the Atlantic Ocean and Andreia is participating in AMT for the second time to investigate the effects of Saharan dust on coccolithophore communities.

An international team of young researchers on board the Polarstern

Mara Gomes from MARE-FCUL is participating in a month long expedition from the Falkland Islands to Bremerhaven, the South-North Atlantic Training Transect cruise as part of PORTWIMS. They are part of a team of 25 young scientists who will gain unique insights into the marine sciences and engage in short projects on interactions between the ocean, atmosphere and climate.
See the press release or cruise blog for updates.


YouTube video on Earth Observtion

Vanda Brotas participated on a conference included on the program CCOceanos 2019 – sponsored by Vodafone, on the 14th February 2019, where she highlighted the importance of PORTWIMS for the development of expertise on Earth Observation in Portugal. This programme consists of a set of conferences for the general public, which are recorded and streamed in Portuguese. 

PORTWIMS objectives presented at the Atlantic4Space workshop

Vanda Brotas presenting at the Atlantic from Space workshop
Vanda Brotas gave a presentation in January 2019 at the Atlantic4Space Workshop in Southampton, UK titled "Survey of Earth Observation activities conducted at the University of Lisbon on the Northeast Atlantic" which included presentation of the PORTWIMS main objectives.

Download the slides from the presentation.


Applications for PORTWIMS Summer Schools now open


Illustrator Rui Sousa and author Vanda Brotas at the launch of the children's book

"The girl who could see the sea with different colours" by Vanda Brotas

On 1st December, Vanda Brotas launched a Portuguese children’s book “The girl who could see the sea with different colours”, which aims to call the attention of 8-11 years old to the role of phytoplankton in the marine ecosystem and the way Earth Observation satellites work. The book is published by Gradiva. The book is sponsored by Ciência Viva which is the major Portuguese Governmental Agency in Science Communication and Outreach.

* Update - the book has now been translated and is available to download in an English version *
Vanda talking to school children

Vanda used her book to explain to 10-12 year old students what is the colour of the ocean during a school visit in March 2019. She used the book to help explain what phytoplankton is, it's importance and how satellites can observe the colour of the ocean.

Further information

The girl who could see different colours in the sea - Book by Vanda Brotas. English version

Portuguese version:
A menina que via o mar de várias cores . Gravida publishers.

Newspaper article in Publico

Atlantic Meridional Transect article by Vanda Brotas



PORTWIMS Newsletter

Download past issues of the PORTWIMS Newsletter.

Issue 12: September 2022
Issue 11: May 2022
Issue 10: December 2021
Issue 9: July 2021
Issue 8: April 2021
Issue 7: December 2020
Issue 6: July 2020
Issue 5: March 2020
Issue 4: November 2019
Issue 3: July 2019
Issue 2: March 2019
Issue 1: December 2018